Bloomin' Tales

Bloomin' Tales: Seven Favorite Wildflower Legends
by Cherie Foster Colburn
Illustrations by Joy Fisher Hein

65 pages
Bright Sky Press, 2012
List price:  $9.95

Legends seem to have a universal appeal to children, even when deep down they may know that the stories might not be true. It's the mere possibility that they are that draws them in. In Bloomin' Tales, Cherie Foster Colburn tells the legends behind seven wildflowers that children throughout the United States might be familiar with: foxglove, water lily, prickly pear cactus, morning glory, Indian blanket, goldenrod, and bluebonnet.

This is a great way to introduce children to flowers and gardening by appealing to their sense of adventure. Being inspired by the stories here, they may want to grow some of their own and eventually pass the legends down to their own children one day. Also included are some facts about each wildflower, making this an excellent teaching tool for parents and educators.

The stories are charming, to be sure, but carrying equal weight are the beautiful and colorful illustrations by Joy Fisher Hein.  The book has also been published in a hardcover version with a slightly different title: Bloomin' Tales: Legends of Seven Favorite Texas Wildflowers.

Cherie Foster Colburn is a professional landscape designer, contributor to numerous magazines, and author of Our Shadow Garden, illustrated by and benefitting the children of M. D. Anderson' Children's Art project and Heirloom Bulbs of Today with bulb hunter Chris Wiesinger.

Joy Fisher Hein is an artist, Master Naturalist and illustrator of several books. She lives in Texas Hill Country.

The publication being reviewed was the sole compensation for reviewing it. All opinions expressed here are mine. If I like something, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that,too.

A Guide to Bearded Irises

A Guide to Bearded Irises
Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts

by Kelly D. Norris

348 pages, hardcover
Timber Press, 2012
List price: $39.95

If you've ever met Kelly Norris, you know that his enthusiasm for life is infectious. He has the ability to turn an hour into a mere blip on the time continuum when he starts talking about plants, even if you're not a gardener. Let the subject turn specifically to irises and he kicks it up a notch.

Norris is without a doubt the poster child for irises, so it was only a matter of time before he wrote a book about them. A Guide to Bearded Irises appeals to the beginning gardener, who will drool over its pages of photos showing some of the best the iris world has to offer, but they'll also find helpful information on how to grow them. Design advice is here too, as Norris explains how well irises coordinate with other garden plants.

The iris story is complete, including a history as well as how you can contribute to the future of the iris in your own garden through proper care and selection. Norris touches on pretty much all aspects of iris culture, making A Guide to Bearded Irises an essential part of any gardening library. When all is said and done, this is  a book that's a joy to just curl up with, whether you want to savor the beauty of the images or learn more about this versatile garden perennial.

Kelly D. Norris is a horticulturist, plant breeder, and plantsman from Bedford, Iowa. He is an award-winning author of several books and in-demand garden speaker. He currently manages Rainbow Iris Farm and edits Irises, the official magazine of The American Iris Society.

The publication being reviewed was the sole compensation for reviewing it. All opinions expressed here are mine. If I like something, I'll say so. If I don't, I'll say that,too.